Chilean quake: No risk of tsunami here; two former San Juan residents in Kailua evacuated
February 27, 2010 · Updated 12:59 PM
The San Juan County-Town of Friday Harbor Department of Emergency Management reports there is no risk of tsunami in the San Juan Islands resulting from the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Chile early Saturday.
"Due to the recent massive quake in Chile, the NOAA West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami advisory or watch for much of the west coast of the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii," local Emergency Management Director Brendan Cowan said in an e-mail. "There is no risk of tsunami for the waters of the San Juan Islands."
The first tsunami wave was expected to reach Hawaii at 11:19 a.m. Hawaii time, 1:19 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
Hawaii is bracing for possibly the largest wave to strike the island since 1964, according to news reports. Boats and coastal communities are being evacuated. Hilo International Airport is closed, the Associated Press reported.
"A tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii. Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property," NOAA reported.
"A tsunami is a series of long ocean waves. Each individual wave crest can last 5 to 15 minutes or more and extensively flood coastal areas. The danger can continue for many hours after the initial wave as subsequent waves arrive. Tsunami wave heights cannot be predicted and the first wave may not be the largest. Tsunami waves efficiently wrap around islands. All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face. The trough of a tsunami wave may temporarily expose the seafloor but the area will quickly flood again. Extremely strong and unusual nearshore currents can accompany a tsunami. Debris picked up and carried by a tsunami amplifies its destructive power. Simultaneous high tides or high surf can significantly increase the tsunami hazard."
Former San Juan Island resident Allison Shadday, an author and counselor who lives in Kailua with her husband, Sven Haarhoff, said she and her husband have been evacuated and are staying with friends who live in the mountains.
"Now we just ride it out," she said.
Reuters reported Saturday morning that at least 147 people were killed in Chile, buildings burned or collapsed, major highway bridges collapsed and debris lay in the streets across large swathes of the central part of the country.
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